The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has rolled back its decision to present four awards during the commercial breaks of the Oscars telecast on February 24. In a statement on Friday, the Academy said it had “heard the feedback from its membership” and will be presenting all 24 awards as part of the telecast, without edits. The brief statement, released on the Academy website, said:
The Academy has heard the feedback from its membership regarding the Oscar presentation of four awards - Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short, and Makeup and Hairstyling. All Academy Awards will be presented without edits, in our traditional format. We look forward to Oscar Sunday, February 24.
- Officers of the Board of Governors, The Academy
As part of a series of measures to cut the Oscars telecast down to three hours, the Academy had on Monday revealed plans to present four awards – for Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Live Action Short – during the commercial breaks of the 91st Academy Awards ceremony. The winners speeches would be aired later in the broadcast, a letter from Academy president John Bailey to members said.
The decision, however, was perceived as a slight to these categories and there was immediate backlash from Hollywood. Film industry members on social media criticised the exclusion of cinematography and editing awards from the telecast, contending that they were integral to the art of filmmaking. An open letter signed by more than 200 cinematographers, filmmakers and actors including Bradley Cooper, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Roger Deakins, Quentin Tarantino, Damien Chazelle and Seth Rogen urged the Academy to reverse its decision, contending that the plan was “an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession”.
The Academy then clarified its plan in a letter to its members, saying that “no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others”.
However, the storm refused to die down, with more big names signing the open letter, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Peter Dinklage, Christopher Nolan, Alejandro G. Inarritu and Guillermo del Toro. Associations of cinematographers and editors, including the Motion Picture Editors Guild, The International Cinematographers Guild, the American Society of Cinematographers and the American Cinema Editors also registered their disapproval to the Academy.
After the Academy announced that it is reversing its decision, several of these associations released statements of appreciating the Oscars body, Deadline reported.
This is the latest attempted revamp of the ceremony that the Academy had to walk back. Last year, the Oscars body had announced a new category for “Best Popular Film”, but had to postpone its implementation after it was widely criticised. Last month, the Academy was reportedly planning to include performances of only two out five songs nominated for Best Original Song in the ceremony, but that too was dropped.
The ceremony also does not have a host this year, as actor and comedian Kevin Hart, who was to anchor the event, stepped down after old homophobic tweets of his resurfaced on social media.